On a minimal model for estimating climate sensitivity

Gavin C. Cawley, Kevin Cowtan, Robert G. Way, Peter Jacobs, Ari Jokimäki

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Abstract

In a recent issue of this journal, Loehle (2014) presents a "minimal model" for estimating climate sensitivity, identical to that previously published by Loehle and Scafetta (2011). The novelty in the more recent paper lies in the straightforward calculation of an estimate of transient climate response based on the model and an estimate of equilibrium climate sensitivity derived therefrom, via a flawed methodology. We demonstrate that the Loehle and Scafetta model systematically underestimates the transient climate response, due to a number of unsupportable assumptions regarding the climate system. Once the flaws in Loehle and Scafetta's model are addressed, the estimates of transient climate response and equilibrium climate sensitivity derived from the model are entirely consistent with those obtained from general circulation models, and indeed exclude the possibility of low climate sensitivity, directly contradicting the principal conclusion drawn by Loehle. Further, we present an even more parsimonious model for estimating climate sensitivity. Our model is based on observed changes in radiative forcings, and is therefore constrained by physics, unlike the Loehle model, which is little more than a curve-fitting exercise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-25
Number of pages6
JournalEcological Modelling
Volume297
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2015

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